What you should know about chewing tobacco
Is chewing tobacco as bad for your health as smoking?
Yes, it is. It helps to remember that just because you don’t smoke tobacco doesn’t mean it is safe to use. Plus, chewing tobacco, or snuff, can be even more addictive than smoking cigarettes.
What are the health risks?
Chewing tobacco can cause many types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, tongue, gums, stomach, oesophagus (throat) and bladder. Heavy users might also notice that their teeth can start to get worn down and stained by the chewing tobacco, which can also cause the gums to recede. Regular chewing tobacco use is linked to higher heart attack risks too, since it is known to raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
How does chewing tobacco compare to smoking?
Chewing tobacco contains more nicotine than cigarettes and can be even more difficult to quit than smoking. Having a regular amount of chew in your mouth for 30 minutes will give you as much nicotine as three cigarettes. This means more nicotine gets into your bloodstream, which causes a buzz that regular chewing tobacco users can begin to crave. This buzz can momentarily change the way you think, feel and even act.
How can I quit?
Chewing tobacco is highly addictive. But just like smoking, it is possible to stop using chewing tobacco.
Many people who quit find it helpful to replace chewing tobacco with a healthier substitute, like sunflower seeds, beef jerky or chewing gum. These substitutes take the physical place of chew in the mouth and they can help keep you distracted.
Heavy users of chewing tobacco may also want to consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to reduce their cravings and to lessen their withdrawal symptoms. NRT includes nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers and sprays that provide a cleaner dose of nicotine without the toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in chewing tobacco.
Doctors can also prescribe medicines like Champix and Zyban to help you quit.
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